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    09 February 2006

    Israeli Security Agencies Regret US Iraq Invasion

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    Head of domestic security in Israel is beginning to think twice about his countries support of the US policy in the middle East. This complements statements made late last year that the Israelis did NOT want the US messing with the Syrian Gov't, for fear of the return of the Muslim Brotherhood. From the article:
    The head of Israel's domestic security agency, Shin Bet, has said his country may come to regret the overthrow of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
    Yuval Diskin said a strong dictatorship would be preferable to the present "chaos" in Iraq, in a speech to teenage Jewish settlers in the West Bank.
    When asked about the growing destabilisation of Iraq, Mr Diskin said Israel might come to rue its decision to support the US-led invasion in 2003.

    "When you dismantle a system in which there is a despot who controls his people by force, you have chaos," he said.

    "I'm not sure we won't miss Saddam."

    Our foreign policy is pathetic, and the Dems should start thinking up some alternatives.

    Posted by Geoff

    08 February 2006

    The Right-wing attack on Rev. Lowery

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    They will try but the logic embraced here will prevail. Republicans have no place questioning the Reverends motives yesterday. He was doing a service to Dr. and Mrs. (Dr.?) King and their families. The King legacy is not a republican issue. It is a progressive issue, it is ours. Repubs have Falwell and Robertson. We have the Kings. Tucker 'bowtie' Carlson is the first to learn.
    CARLSON: It's not hard to hear that [your remarks] and not draw the obvious conclusion that that's an attack on President Bush, which of course is your right to do, and I think completely fair. But again, it seemed very uncomfortable to say something like that in a funeral with the president right there. It seemed like bad manners.

    LOWERY: Well, I don't think so. I certainly didn't intend for it to be bad manners. I did intend for it to -- to call attention to the fact that Mrs. King spoke truth to power. And here was an opportunity to demonstrate how she spoke truth to power about this war and about all wars.

    And I think that, in the context of the faith, out of which the movement grows, we have always opposed war. We've always fought poverty. And we base our -- our argument on -- on the faith, on the fact that Jesus taught us. He identified with the poor. "I was hungry; you didn't feed me. I was naked; you didn't clothe me. I was in prison; you didn't see about me." He talked about war. He talked about he who lives by the sword.

    So I'm comfortable with the fact that I was reflecting on Mrs. King's tenacity against war, her determination to witness against war and to speak truth to power.

    Posted by Geoff

    Post-SOTU poll: Huge bounce

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    The State of the Union went real well for the President. Approve: 40% (Pew, MoE +/-3%)

    Posted by Geoff

    07 February 2006

    Rev. Lowery calls it like he sees it

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    "She extended Martin’s message against poverty, racism, and war. She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on mission’s way afar. We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there ...[25 seconds for calm]... but Coretta knew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor." - Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery

    Yesterday, at Coretta Scott King's funeral, Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery gave an important gift to the King family and to the spirit of MLK Jr. himself. He did so by calling out the failure of foreign policy enacted by the Bush administration by (1) attacking Iraq and then (2) letting it go to hell. He did so in front of 4 presidents, including the '‘w'’.

    Watch the video (Think Progress or better yet (and bigger) C&L. Go to 4:20 if your in a hurry)...

    This is big folks. This is the ONLY time our piece of [expletive omitted by the NSA] President will ever hear dissent and displeasure on this scale. He normally speechifies at staged events with pre-selected crowds; an audience where people go to jail for wearing the wrong T-shirt. But today he had to sit there while hundreds, maybe thousands, of average Americans (and millions more across the nation) jeered him as the failure he is. He had to sit there; he had Condi but no Karl, and no Dick.... just Condi, Laura, Daddy, and reality.

    And to you Bush apologists and pseudo-conservative enablers; you may want to get all worked up about how this somehow disgraced the late Mrs. King or Rev. King himself. Perhaps you need to start thinking about who's house they were in yesterday? Well it'’s time for you to stop pretending that Dr. King and his wife weren't political people or that somehow liked your president. They were progressive activists to the core, they fought against the familiar closed mind of conservatism, and they were honored as such today.

    Not nice? Treason is not nice. War is not nice. Torture is not nice. 2260 is not nice.

    Image hosting by Photobucket

    For the King family

    Posted by Geoff

    Top Ten Myths About the Illegal NSA Spying on Americans

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    MYTH: This is merely a "terrorist surveillance program."
    REALITY: When there is evidence a person may be a terrorist, both the criminal code and intelligence laws already authorize eavesdropping. This illegal program, however, allows electronic monitoring without any showing to a court that the person being spied upon in this country is a suspected terrorist.

    MYTH: The program is legal.
    REALITY: The program violates the Fourth Amendment and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and will chill free speech.

    MYTH: The Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) allows this.
    REALITY: The resolution about using force in Afghanistan doesn't mention wiretaps and doesn't apply domestically, but FISA does--it requires a court order.

    MYTH: The president has authority as commander in chief of the military to spy on Americans without any court oversight.
    REALITY: The Supreme Court recently found the administration's claim of unlimited commander in chief powers during war to be an unacceptable effort to "condense power into a single branch of government," contrary to the Constitution's checks and balances.

    MYTH: The president has the power to say what the law is.
    REALITY: The courts have this power under our system of government, and no person is above the law, not even the president, or the rule of law means nothing.

    MYTH: These warrantless wiretaps could never happen to you.
    REALITY: Without court oversight, there is no way to ensure innocent people's everyday communications are not monitored or catalogued by the NSA or other agencies.

    MYTH: This illegal program could have prevented the 9/11 attacks.
    REALITY: This is utter manipulation. Before 9/11, the federal government had gathered intelligence, without illegal NSA spying, about the looming attacks and at least two of the terrorists who perpetrated them, but failed to act.

    MYTH: This illegal program has saved thousands of lives.
    REALITY: Because the program is secret the administration can assert anything it wants and then claim the need for secrecy excuses its failure to document these claims, let alone reveal all the times the program distracted intelligence agents with dead ends that wasted resources and trampled individual rights.

    MYTH: FISA takes too long.
    REALITY: FISA allows wiretaps to begin immediately in emergencies, with three days afterward to go to court. Even without an emergency, FISA orders can be approved very quickly and FISA judges are available at all hours.

    MYTH: Only liberals disagree with the president about the program.
    REALITY: The serious concerns that have been raised transcend party labels and reflect genuine and widespread worries about the lack of checks on the president's claim of unlimited power to illegally spy on Americans without any independent oversight.


    Posted by Geoff

    Letters to DeMint, Brown, and Graham

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    Dear Senators and Congressman,

    In a quote from an Insight online article, "Congressional sources said Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has threatened to blacklist any Republican who votes against the president. The sources said the blacklist would mean a halt in any White House political or financial support of senators running for re-election in November."

    This is an obvious 'last breath' of a treasonous Republican strategist. Please carry out your duties at your own discretion and ignore the threats coming from the disgraced White House.


    Thank you.

    Posted by Geoff

    Costa Rican Elections

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    Don't ask me why, but I've always admired Costa Rica. I guess it seems like a great place to escape if this country continues on its decline.

    Not a hot topic right now, the election there has become extremely close; within 0.2% (<4000 votes). I won't go into length as to which candidate I support or not as I really have no stand, I just like Costa Rica, but the results were delayed 15 days due to the closeness of the election. Salient issue: CAFTA. I bet the Socalist wins (they're both, by American standards, Socalist)

    In similar news, voting is taking place in Haiti. The first vote since US and French interests foiled their democracy.

    Posted by Geoff

    06 February 2006

    Sec. Rice is a Liar

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    Looks like Miss America was fibbing when she said "I've asked why nobody saw it coming (...) It does say something about us not having a good enough pulse on the Palestinian population."
    Now Newsweek reports:
    On Saturday, several days after Rice's remarks, a senior U.S. official conceded to NEWSWEEK that the Bush administration had downplayed warnings from both the Israelis and Palestinians that Hamas' popularity was dramatically on the rise.

    T wonder sometimes how these people appear to be so alert, even when they're in their neo-con fantasy world.

    Posted by Geoff

    05 February 2006

    US Gov't tactically Using the Cartoon Controversy

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    [UPDATE] Juan Cole agrees with most of my analysis below:
    The Beirut violence follows that of Damascus on Saturday, where a mob attacked the Danish and Norwegian embassies and attempted to go after the Swedish and French embassies. The Baath government in Syria is secular, and normally rules with a heavy hand. But the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is extremely powerful among the 80 percent of the population that is Sunni Muslim, and it forms an underground dissident opposition. It seems to me more likely that Muslim radicals took advantage of the protest to incite a mob than that the Syrian Baath deliberately unleashed arsons on the Danes. Washington and other anti-Syrian Western powers cynically played power politics with the incident, accusing the Syrian government of having the embassies torched, something that seems unlikely and for which there is no proof.

    Reuters reports, ' Syria's grand Mufti Badr Eddine Hassoun, told government newspaper al-Thawra that the attackers did their country harm. "We feel sorrow that these people who were driven by passion reached the stage where they have undermined our dialogue with the Norwegian and Danes," he said. '

    But he does not agree that the Saudis were provoking the rioting, he argues that it has been festering in the Muslim Danish communities since September and spread slowly to the Middle East as more papers published the Cartoons.


    The US had to get into the controversy over the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed which appeared in several European newspapers beginning in September 2005 (4 months ago). As usual the US took this opportunity to blame Syria for the wave of rioting and general violence that has swept across parts of the Middle East; Burning Danish Embassy, burning Danish flags in Lebanon and Syria, boycotts in Saudi Arabia, protests and a possible assassination of a catholic priest in Turkey, and spreading out to Libya and Indonesia, and they'll blame Iran if one of their embassy's goes up as well (this list goes on...). But this accusation against Syria only adds up when you use the logic that has been used by Sec. Rice and her team of neo-con brain surgeons. The same logic that makes you "surprised" when Hamas wins a majority government in Palestinian elections.

    Point is: This doesn't add up.

    Syria's government is secular and in the minority. They do not have the influence to reach any state outside of the Middle East (note here that Saudi Arabia does have this influence). However those Muslim Brothers have the numbers in Syria (on the order of 60+%) and they look to Saudi Arabia not Damascus. In fact, many protesters rioters were waving the Saudi flag. But that would be to hard for the traditional media or the government to check for wouldn't it? Or maybe it’s all part of their plan?

    Bottom line, this has all been orchestrated by the Saudi clerics or even government (is there even a separation in Saudi Arabia?), as argued here by Soj (from across the ocean).

    Who the F are these people in our government who continue to replace simple logic and basic facts with instigative politics and untested ideology. It really should be stopped.

    Posted by Geoff

    The Iraqi Oil and insurgents - Lebanon's democracy

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    Col. Pat Lang has two good posts.

    One on the infiltration of the Iraqi oil infrastructure, which may put an end to the foreign funds line.

    Another on events in Lebanon. Seems that Hizballah may be cast as a resistance not a militia, a smack in the face to the US and French and their UN resolution 1559. The US isn't going to like this but that's democracy. The call was made by a friend of the late Rafik Hariri, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Siniora addressing the Beirut parliament about Hizballah: "We have never called, and will never call, the resistance by any name other than the resistance."

    Posted by Geoff

    Administrations Rational for Spying is "strained and unrealistic" - Repub Senator

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    Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) told Tim Rusert today that:
    "I think that contention is very strained and unrealistic. The authorization for use of force never mentions electronic surveillance," Specter said.

    In response to written questions submitted to him by Specter before the hearing, Gonzales gives an explanation why the administration bypassed the FISA court: "The delay inherent in the FISA process is incompatible with the narrow purpose of this early warning system."

    Specter, however, said that response "was not entirely responsive. ... His answer wasn't really clear." The senator said there is no reason why the administration could not have consulted with the spy court or Congress, who could have changed the law if it was too cumbersome.

    The response wasn't a response. It was more talking points on the defense of the program and its necessity. The only way they can defend it is by praying that the executive has eroded the other two wings of this government away enough to be able to get through this without getting in trouble. In a sense, this is the first check of the unitary executive (sub. req.) created by friends of the Bush administration.

    More from the show today:
    Specter, R-Pa., said he might consider subpoenas for administration documents that would detail its legal justification for the program.

    "The president could've taken this there and lay it on the line," Specter said, citing the special court set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.

    "That court has an outstanding record of not leaking. They would be pre-eminently well-qualified to evaluate this program and say it's OK or not OK," Specter told NBC's "Meet the Press."
    "The president's authority to take military action — including the use of communications intelligence targeted at the enemy — does not come merely from his constitutional powers. It comes directly from Congress as well," in that post-Sept. 11 resolution, according to Gonzales' prepared testimony for the hearing. The Associated Press on Saturday obtained a copy of his scheduled remarks.

    Specter was skeptical.

    As are we.

    Posted by Geoff


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